A few mornings ago a champion racing pigeon, a 700 mile flyer, simply didn’t come home from a morning spin. HeadsUp left a quiet grey hen and eggs due any day. Dusan isolated the hen and left on a trip. After a short time such a hen will lay her eggs, but has lost interest in nesting them without her mate.
For a couple of days I have checked her small crate, freshening food and breaking ice in her water. An egg freshly laid (almost always at 8pm) and taken away from the now indifferent hen may be tucked into an egg carton and put somewhere not too warm, turned over twice a day. Two days later at 4pm the second egg is laid. The two may then be substituted for the eggs of a less special breeding pair for them to raise. Infant pigeons, these baby dinosaurs, are not like chicken chicks pecking grain just out of the egg, but are carefully “nursed” — fed “crop milk” formed in the crop of each parent.
In the dark I walk carefully back from the loft to the house under the clouded full moon, sheet ice underfoot, neighbor’s smoke snaking around my shoulders, having hoped to bring back hope in my hands. I will look again tomorrow.
Perhaps three days old...